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September 1, 2023

 

To the supporters of OL:

 

I am writing to you today with the singular purpose of providing details regarding our player acquisitions and loan transactions during the mercato. Although it would have been my preference to provide a more traditional update, possibly through a live video conference, I am compelled to communicate certain facts now, to pre-empt certain voices that are intending to impugn the integrity of good people, confuse our community and harm our club.

 

Please consider the following undeniable truths:

 

   Regarding the DNCG and OL

 

  • We were challenged by the stewards of financial sustainability in football, the DNCG, to execute our business plan in austere fashion, as necessary to re-establish an equity base that had been severely depleted after 3 years of competitive disappointment and reduced revenues.  Our equity base was also heavily impacted by increased debt levels, associated with COVID impacts, that still challenge us today.

  • We are not happy to start our tenure of leadership with limitations on spending in our first transfer window. It’s not nearly as much fun as I would have liked to have had, but it is our current reality.  The decisions of the DNCG may feel painful, but their concern for the financial health of our club is certainly justified.

  • With the DNCG rulings behind us, I can sincerely say that we are working well together, and their role in the financial oversight of our club has already positioned us for a brighter future. I don’t make politically strategic statements. I think everyone knows that about me…but this is the truth. We are better off as a result of having gone through this painful process.

 

   Regarding the Loan between RWDM and OL

 

  • The purchase of player rights by RWDM from a club in Denmark was supported by ‘proof of funds’, verified by a leading commercial bank in Brazil, reflecting a cash balance equivalent to 60 Million Euros.  This respected bank is a publicly-listed financial institution which trades on the NASDAQ stock exchange in the United States.

  • This is the same account, and cash balance, that was provided to the DNCG…meaning, importantly, that this is the same source that we have consistently asserted would be available to help the portfolio clubs of Eagle Football. Conspiratorial reports of an offshore account being used in our player transfer activity are mean-spirited and categorically untrue…they can only be true if Brazil has suddenly moved ‘offshore’.

  • The transaction is a routine purchase and loan transaction, completed in full compliance with FIFA regulations, under the oversight of the DNCG. We specifically sought the involvement of FIFA to support our communication with the Belgium FA.

  • RWDM, which is entirely funded by myself and by Eagle Football Holdings, is sufficiently capitalized to complete the required payments which shall be made from “club to club”.

 

Finally, it is true that this purchase and loan transaction is unusually large for a recently promoted club in Belgium. It is also true that RWDM (which is not wholly owned by Eagle) does stand to benefit from the increasing value of the player’s economic rights if he should perform well with the OL as the loan club. This is not the first time that a small, recently promoted, club in Belgium was able to benefit from the association with a multi-club parent company (recent league leaders are a good example).

 

In light of the above, our supporters (and journalists that are tempted to repeat this interesting story) should remain wary of the agenda of those that look to make an honest transaction look like something it is not. We are working hard to advance the interests of OL under very unusual circumstances. With all of our challenges during this mercato, I am quite happy with the work of our football department – and I welcome our new players, all of whom I know are proud to play for Olympique Lyonnais.

 

Now, it’s time to play football…Allez l’OL!!!

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July 18, 2023

Welcome to France...

OL (Olympique Lyonnais) takes note of the FFF's (French Football Federation) decision to confirm the initial opinion of the DNCG (National Directorate of Management Control). 

 

This morning, July 18, OLG management presented arguments in support of its 2023/24 budget. The OLG budget represents a practical balance of a diversified business that includes sports, entertainment and real estate. OLG’s decision to focus on its core business of football resulted in a revised budget which would reduce dependency on player sales, produce significant positive cashflow through the sale of non-core business assets, and assure a healthy and sustainable future for OLG for many years into the future. Such strategy, implemented by the direct and free management of its football operations, would also allow OLG to retain its key players and strengthen the competitive prospects of the football club. 

 

In addition to the presentation of our budget and business strategy, OLG management also offered new elements, as previously requested by the DNCG, providing proof of funds showing my deposit of €60 Million, as Eagle Football’s leading shareholder, in a special purpose account to be used exclusively for additional working capital support of OLG.  We do not believe this capital should be necessary, but it has been set aside, out of respect for the DNCG, as an additional assurance that OLG is well-capitalized, even under the most conservative projection scenarios.  

 

With €86 Million funded into the balance sheet in December, €65 Million funded into the mandatory tender offer in June, and now €60 Million funded in July, Eagle Football has invested €211 million Euros of cash equity in support of the health of OLG since its December acquisition. We also proposed to the DNCG and to the commission the transfer of all Eagle Football assets into OLG, thereby injecting more than €300 million of net equity onto the balance sheet, and assuring that OLG stands as one of the most well-capitalized football organizations in Europe.

 

OLG management also highlighted Eagle Football’s successful track record of improving both the financial health and competitive performance of its other directly managed football clubs, in Brazil and Belgium…also our significant investment in Crystal Palace Football Club, which helped to complete one of the most successful, community-serving academies in the Premier League. 

 

Despite a comprehensive presentation of all of the above, including important new elements such as the the proof of funds matching the €60 million amount requested by the DNCG…it was still not enough.  The Appeals Commission decided to uphold the DNCG ruling to restrict the freedom of new ownership in the management of its football operations.  

 

We were invited to purchase one of the true treasures of football in France. We were invited to pay out cash of nearly €400 million to its long-time shareholders, pay €65 million in cash to its interested public shareholders, pay down bank debt by €50 million, then fund another €60 million in cash (on short notice) just for cushion…but we are not yet invited to execute a business plan based on our beliefs, with a free hand, for the benefit of the community we serve.

 

Once again, welcome to football in France!

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